FRAMESHOP:OUR SITE GETS A MAJOR UPGRADE!

A new look and many, many new features. Big changes in politics and online technology presented an opportunity to upgrade Frameshop. And so we did.

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 02/09/2009

You may have noticed a few (ehem...) changes around here.  Big changes--the site has been completely repackaged, reworked, expanded, modernized.  Out with the old, in with the new.  But it was not just on a whim that this happened.  Big changes in politics and technology over the past few months have presented an ideal opportunity to turbocharge the site.    Before we get back to the daily work of driving the debate, I thought I would take a few minutes to list the new features and explain the logic behind visual rebranding.

Keeping Up And Getting Out There
When Frameshop opened in 2004, I never thought for a minute that I would do anything but sit at my desk and write like crazy.  The posts from those early days were long and detailed, but often after the fact.  We had so much reframing to do in a world where George W. Bush was unstoppable, it seemed fine to linger on what had already happened.  Fast forward 5 years: times have changed and so has the pace.

The daily feed from Frameshop in 2008 shifted from stand-alone long analysis to a fast-paced mix  short updates from Twitter, event planning on Facebook, real-time campaign analysis, and media event live blogging.  As a result--and many of you have worked hard to keep up--Frameshop the website has extended itself into a variety of other mediums. 

First and foremost, the new site design merges Frameshop liveblogging and long analysis by adding a real time Twitter updates to the front page.  Not on Twitter yet?  That's OK, you can follow us right here on Frameshop.

Second, Frameshop now has a more intensive and elaborate front page, putting a range of timely and varied analysis all in one place.    The new front page is a big change because the content is not just presented chronologically like the old site, but edited for relevance, timeliness, and value to readers.  It means more work for us, but the result is worth it. 

Third, as our readers are more net savvy and politically engaged than they were in 2004, Frameshop now provides a wide range of tools for connecting what you find here to wherever you are out there. These features include a brand new toolbox that appears next to every individual post, allowing readers to:

  • increase/decrease font size
  • print individual pages
  • post a Frameshop essay to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, FriendFeed, etc.
  • email posts to friends
  • subscribe easily to the RSS feed
  • bookmark the site on your favorite network
  • Send an instant message right from a post (this is cool)
  • blog about a Frameshop post right from here

And there will be more features as well, added as they are ready in the months ahead, so stay tuned.  The bottom line:  You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. 

Fourth, since conversation is a crucial part of what we do, here, the Frameshop discussion system has been upgraded to the Disqus set of comment tools.   You do not have to register at Disqus to post a comment, but if you do register, an entire world opens up to you. Most importantly, Frameshop comments now include:

  • user ratings
  • user side sorting
  • comment thread nesting
  • avatars and user photos
  • comment feeds
  • comment reblogging

One caveat is that the old comments are temporarily held up--they are in the Disqus system and will resurface soon.  Try it out--I guarantee you will instantly see the difference.

Fifth, since readers search Frameshop for usable information as much as they read it on a daily basis, we have integrated a new site specific search bar.  Wherever you are on the site, you are always within reach of a Google search bar that scours Frameshop for whatever you need and throws it onto a page with the Frameshop logo to keep you organized.  Try it out, you will not be disappointed.

What can you expect that is not here, yet?  There is much more in the works, but it requires some money--and we're out of that stuff at the moment.  Now that Frameshop has an edited front page, the next step will be adding more media content--particularly audio and video.    Creating relevant and quality video/audio that fits within the Frameshop style is expensive and time consuming, so we re not rushing.  But we should get there in the next six months, definitely.

We also plan to introduce an iPhone format for those of you who--like me--spend more and more time on the hoof.  Expect the iPhone format soon (I want it--so it will happen fast). 

The Pen Logo:  Neither Lost Nor Forgotten
The hardest part of the new change was parting ways with the old pen logo.  I love that pen. In fact, I use that pen every day--but I finally decided that the pen log was creating confusion for new readers.    I will keep it, and find a place for it somewhere.  But for now we have a new logo:

logo

The new logo brings several important strengths to the site that are worth noting:

  • clarity: it is sharp and reproducible in any medium or size
  • color identity
  • name recognition:  our name/url is our logo

The inspiration for the new logo comes from an unlikely place:  the airport.  The Amsterdam airport, to be exact, has the clearest signage I have every seen in my life.  What I wanted for Frameshop was not just a cool web page design (and the pen was nifty, I agree with that), but a logo that said loud and clear:  this is a place that helps you find your way.   The font is called Frutiger, which is a classic font used for way finding signage. 

The blue in the logo speaks to the obvious political iconography of our time, but also to the basic browser vocabulary we all know well.  Blue is the color that takes you to new information, links you to new places, and connects ideas.  It also looks sharp in a variety of mediums.  

Lastly, the logo integrates the site url in the design--resolving a confusion that has sent many new readers to Google trying to find us.   Call us 'Frameshop' or 'Frameshop is open" or 'Frameshop is open dot com'--the choice is yours.  The reality is that all those names describe this place, and all those options are in the logo where they belong. 

I am a print design tinkerer, so I may go back into Adobe Illustrator and tweak a few things here and there.  Consider it the new logo Frameshop 1.9.  But take a good long look as the basics will stay as they are.

Stepping Up
The new design will take about a week to get up and running, so please be patient as we move the templates over from the test site.  Our archive pages are still in flux, some old comments may be temporarily unavailable, and some of the new features may load slower than we would like.  Mostly, we need time to tag and trim lots of old posts so they fit into the new presentation. But take a look around, tell a friend, and start getting up to speed on the new features.

What you will quickly find, I hope, is that Frameshop is no longer just a column.  It is a real competitor in the shifting media market, and we hope to make more and more people put Frameshop on their short list of sites they check over and over again throughout the day to make sure they know what is happening in politics and beyond.

And when I say 'beyond,' that is not by accident.  The new format allows us to step into new areas of analysis have popped up periodically on the site, but now can play a more regular role, including: economy, environment, books, film, and more.  Frameshop is not just about politics.  It a place to go to engage, shape and drive the debate on  politics, language, and culture.  

© Jeffrey Feldman 2009, Frameshop

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